March 19, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
reddit is fun ranked as one of the top Android apps for accessing the link-sharing site reddit.com. However, fans of the app will be surprised to discover that it is has been banned from Google Play for having “sexually explicit content.”
The developer of reddit is fun shared the news of his app’s banning on reddit, claiming that he received two emails from Google today saying that his app had been banned for housing explicit material. The Google Play terms of service do not permit applications with sexually explicit material, a rule typically reserved for banning hardcore pornography and nude photos.
However reddit is fun doesn’t directly distribute porn. There are explicit subreddits, sections of the site where users share photos and links focused on a particular topic, but a user would have to search for them to see adult material. A few commenters in the reddit post announcing the banning note that the same is true for browser apps like Dolphin or even Google Chrome.
It’s possible that graphic content posted in a subreddit was up-voted to the front page, but that wouldn’t explain everything because other reddit apps remain. A quick Google Play search reveals a few dozen reddit clients that could all be banned under the same logic that got reddit is fun booted. The same goes for the 4chan apps and other forum clients. Perhaps the others weren’t reported, but one would have to assume that the decision makers at Google Play are aware that there are many other apps that present the same kind of content, yet those have been permitted to stay.
We’ve sent a request for comment from Google to gain clarity on the banning and are awaiting a response.
I spoke with a Google spokesperson who reiterated Google’s policy of not commenting on the specifics of app removals. The spokesperson would say only that “We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies,” and then pointed me to a list of rules that can lead to an app’s removal.
After reading the policies, I’m guessing that reddit is fun was removed due to these violations:
• Any material not suitable for persons under 18
• Pornography, obscenity, nudity, or sexual activity
But that still doesn’t explain why other reddit apps are allowed to stay in Google Play, so I downloaded a github copy of reddit is fun to see if I could spot the difference. The answer appeared fairly quickly because when I went to add subreddits, I saw ‘gonewild’ and ‘sex’ listed among the suggested forums to add. This is a clear violation of the no pornography policy because reddit is fun suggested that I enable those links. The browser comparison doesn’t really hold weight anymore because the app actually encourages the user to discover the adult material. Therefore, it’s not simply that you can access adult material – it’s that the explicit content is promoted and readily available.
I checked a couple of other reddit apps that I liked and they both violate the same policy. It wouldn’t surprise me if they end up getting suspended soon, too. (Note: an app that is removed can be appealed and reinstated if the developer makes changes to put the app in line with Google’s policies. It appears reddit is fun is going through that process now, and the appropriate people at Google are addressing the issue.)